Florida A&M men’s basketball players have found themselves with little to play for this season as they are now dealing with NCAA penalties, according to members of the team.
FAMU was recently informed that its men’s basketball program is going to be penalized for not meeting the NCAA minimum standards for Academic Progress Rate (APR) and will be ineligible for postseason competition during the 2018-2019 season.
FAMU men’s team is expected to face limited scholarships for recruitment and will have to reduce the amount of time spent in practices and spring workouts until the sanction is lifted by the NCAA, team members said.
APR, according to the NCAA’s official website, is a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete.
“It’s a big blow to our season,” said an emotionally Justin Ravenel, a senior from Atlanta, Georgia. “We still have high hopes of being the regular season champs. We can’t control not being eligible for the postseason, but we have to continue to strive for the regular season title.”
This marks the second time within four years the men’s program has been penalized for APR violations.
“I feel like APR shouldn’t affect us. I don’t know how, but I feel as if the players before us that messed our APR up should be punished – not us,” said Kameron Reaves, a sophomore from Champaign, Illinois. “Why wouldn’t we be able to play in the tournament for something that we didn’t start?”
During the 2015-2016 season, the Rattlers finished with an overall record of 8-21 under former head coach, Byron Samuels, and finished last in the conference with no hopes of playing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament in Norfolk, VA.
The next season, the Rattlers finished 7-23 overall and tied for 11th place in the conference. They lost in the first round of the tournament to South Carolina State, and shortly after that it was announced that Byron Samuels contract would not be renewed.
The following season under first year head coach, Robert McCullum, the Rattlers loss to Hampton University in the second round of the tournament – and now it seems as though FAMU is back revisiting the same situation, with nothing to look forward to at the end of the season.
McCollum did not respond to requests from The FAMUAN for an interview for this story.
Although McCullum is experiencing these sanctions for the first time, many players have already been through the cycle before.
“Although I am a little mad because this is my second time having to experience this, I think being on APR doesn’t undermine our mentality,” said Brendon Myles, a junior from Mableton Georgia. “We still have to treat every game the same way and do the best we possibly can as a team.
“Being at FAMU is just tough. Honestly, I think our school offers a lot of distractions that can get our heads off track, and we succumb to them, which ultimately leads to digging a hole too deep to come back from before the end of the semester.”
A postseason ban and a decrease of scholarships hurts the program in many ways and can potentially hinder recruits from signing with the University.
Reaves, who is also the grandson to coach McCullum expressed his concerns of what the sanction can do for potential recruits.
“I know if I was a recruit and heard this news, I wouldn’t want to be apart of the program. Competing in the conference tournament is a big part of being a Division 1 athlete…Not only do you have a chance to win your conference tournament, but you can also get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament – and that’s every player dream.”
Editor's note: This story was updated on Thursday, Jan. 30, to make it clear that the NCAA penalties have not been finalized even though the players have been told they won't be eligible for post-season competition.